The latest publishing phenomenon is the return of Sweet Valley High. For a whole generation of young teenage girls, Francine Pascal’s series about Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, the gorgeous California all-American twins, got them reading. Indeed they were key for libraries in luring readers through their doors. 150 million copies were sold worldwide.
Now Pascal has written a book, Sweet Valley Confidential, about the twins’ exploits 10 years on. It has garnered such attention that it was on the front page of Sunday’s New York Times a few weeks ago. It had sold out when I tried to buy it.
Eventually I did read it, in a sitting – as I always did with the SVH books. And it has compelled me to get off my backside and say something and I fully intend to figure out a way I can actually do something.
Back in the day, Jessica and Elizabeth were physically perfect. At a “size 6″ – a UK size 10. Perfection now – whether it be a Cheryl Cole or almost every Hollywood actress, is usually portrayed as a “size 2″, sometimes a “size 0″ – sizes 6 and 4 respectively in the UK.
When you examine what I had to look at growing up – for instance the girls in Beverly Hills 90210 – and compare them to the girls in the new 90210 – they were a good 2 sizes bigger.
The mass media in all their airbrushing of models are bombarding young girls with images of “perfection” that are far from that. This is physically and emotionally damaging enough, but then there is the dark side of the Internet revolution that is truly terrifying.
Access to “naughty pictures” for teenage boys used to be about trying to get hold of a copy of National Geographic or perhaps a dog-eared Playboy. Because of the world-wide-web, boys are learning about sex through hardcore video porn – and that has got to have a direct impact on their relationships. The instances of girls sending naked pictures to their boyfriends who then send them to their friends and consequently worldwide continue on an exponential basis. The advent of Social Networking has led to the rise of “cyber bullying” on a massive scale.
I don’t know how we help young women today, but they need our assistance – they are tomorrow’s leaders, tomorrow’s mothers. Society needs to have a serious think of what we can do to support them.